Today, social media are revolutionizing the way people communicate in their professional and everyday lives. In the field of nursing, social media can be used effectively to promote professional connections, drive leadership initiatives and provide continuous support for patients and their family members. However, a significant problem that arises with the social media is that they often blur the distinction between the personal and the private domains. In healthcare, where the ethical standards of confidentiality are particularly rigorous, the inappropriate use of social media can lead to serious negative consequences, which are hard to foresee, given the common light-hearted attitude to online communication. Thus, it is very important to establish the guidelines and regulatory constraints for nursing communication in the social media to prevent nurses from unintentional breaches of patient confidentiality.
The article “Guidelines for Using Electronic and Social Media: The Regulatory Perspective” (Spector & Kappel, 2012) discusses the meaning of social media with regards to nursing and analyzes the scenarios that demonstrate the need for online communication regulation in the field of nursing. The authors of the article are Nancy Spector, PhD, RN, and Dawn M. Kappel, MA.

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Working at the NCSBN as the Director of Regulatory Innovations, Dr. Spector is a widely-acclaimed expert in regulatory issues in nursing. Kappel is the Director of Marketing & Communications at the NCSBN; she has authored and co-authored numerous publications in nursing regulation. The article primarily addresses nursing educators, employers and regulators who are responsible for the development and implementation of rational nursing policies. The main claim of the authors is that there is an urgent need for detailed policies that would establish the rules of social media use for nurses. They also argue that nurses should be mindful of their professional obligations not only at the workplace but also in what they consider their private setting – social media outlets. This publication is a scholarly peer-reviewed article that evaluates and synthesizes previous research in this field, without any original experiments or research being performed. The major focus of the article is on the analysis of three scenarios of inappropriate use of social media by nurses in the aspects of career considerations and nursing regulation.

In communicating their viewpoint, Spector & Kappel (2012) primarily relied upon logos, which is typical of scholarly research in general. To demonstrate the significance of the issue they discussed, the authors used three real examples of adverse consequences of inappropriate use of social media by nurses. Also, they referred to two surveys that showed the unwillingness of boards of nursing to issue specific regulations, despite numerous complaints they received of the nursing misuse of online communication outlets. This evidence is used to support the authors’ inductive claim that guidelines and policies of social media use by nurses have to be developed and enacted by nursing boards as one of their primary concerns. The use of reasoning is also clearly demonstrated in the refutation of common myths and misconceptions about social media by applying the notions of confidentiality and privacy to their use.

The credibility of the authors is mainly established in the tone and the style of the article. Spector & Kappel (2012) approached the issue of social media in nursing substantially and meticulously, with consideration for different aspects and perspectives. It is remarkable that the authors provided definitions for each concept they discussed (including social media, confidentiality, and privacy) in order to preclude any terminological confusion. While the positions the authors occupy at the NCSBN are not mentioned in the articles explicitly, most of the evidence cited comes from this organization, which implies that Spector & Kappel (2012) are fully competent in the issue they discuss, due to their professional affiliations and responsibilities. The classification of complaints of inadequate use of social media by nurses is also informed with the authors’ personal experience and knowledge as there is no reference for it. Therefore, the authors used their authority in the NCSBN to provide strong evidence of how widespread the problem was and how lightly it was perceived by the boards of nursing. The use of ethos in the article is also represented with numerous references to a previous work co-authored by Nancy Spector. These self-references additionally demonstrate that the researcher has broad expertise in the area of nursing regulation.

While ethos and logos are extensively represented in the article, pathos is almost absent from it, which completely aligns with the academic writing standards. However, it s still evident in several rhetorical questions put by the authors. For example, the question, “Who would have thought that a blog post, as in the first case, would have brought an investigator to the nurse’s home?” (Spector & Kappel, 2012) not only makes the readers think more profoundly about the far-reaching consequences of careless online communication, but also urges them to identify themselves with the nurse for a moment, feeling fear that the same might happen to them. The strong and emotionally-charged words the authors used (such as “egregious”, “devastating”, “jeopardy”) also contribute to the tension that the audience might feel when thinking about the dangers involved in seemingly harmless online communication.

In their article, Spector & Kappel (2012) profoundly investigated the pervasive concern of inappropriate use of social media by nurses and provided useful recommendations for nurses and regulators to address this issue. The article is highly convincing due to the use of strong supporting evidence by the authors: though only three scenarios were analyzed in detail, the authors also referred to the surveys and empirical research that clearly shows the prevalence and significance of the issue. The article is written in appropriate academic tone, with relevant definitions, classifications and guidelines being provided. While the authors addressed the misuse of social media, they also acknowledged the positive implications of social media for nursing, which demonstrates their broad outlook and unprejudiced approach to the topic. There are no questions that the authors left unanswered: upon reading the article, both nurses and nursing regulators should be able to realize the scope of social media misuse and take specific actions to address it.

  • Spector, N., & Kappel, D. (2012). Guidelines for using electronic and social media: The regulatory perspective. OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 17(3), M. 1. Retrieved from